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A story is told that Itzhak Perlman had just begun performing when a violin string broke.  Rather than stop and replace the string, the master violinist continued to play.  In his head, he transposed the music, playing the same notes on another string or rearranging the piece to accommodate his altered violin.

When he completed the piece, the audience gave a thunderous ovation to his mastery and agility.  "It is the artist's task," Perlman said, once the cheering subsided, "to make beautiful music with what you have left."

Perlman's inspiring resilience came to mind in a recent conversation about Jewish educators.  Last week, the annual Helen Diller Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education were awarded to Jody Bloom, Tikva Farber, Jodi Gladstone, and Sarai Shapiro, who teach, respectively, at The Brandeis School, Congregation Kol Shofar, Congregation Beth El, and Wilderness Torah. 
Discussing these and other remarkable educators with my friend Lee Shulman, we were struck by the Perlman-like resilience so many Jewish educators apply to their craft.  So often under-resourced, making do with the equivalent of only three violin strings, Jewish teachers often make "beautiful music" with what they have.  We need to ensure that playing with the broken string is the exception, not the rule - when we equip our educators with the instruments they need, we invest in our future.  And, we should raise our voices in praise of the dedicated educators who give so much of themselves to educate us, to educate our children and to lay the foundation of our Jewish community. 

Among Jewish education's challenges, two "broken strings" loom large:
  • In the super-heated Bay Area economy, it is becoming unaffordable for Jewish educators (and other Jewish communal professionals) to live here.  If we don't address this issue, we will soon face a critical shortage of educators.
  • In Jewish education, our greatest assets are our teachers.  As with any industry, investing in your assets - in this case, via more opportunities for professional growth and development, is a sound investment in our own future.  What if we developed a "super-fund" to support advanced professional study for Jewish educators here?  How might such a development advance Jewish learning in our community?
Hakarat hatov, the Jewish concept of gratitude, literally translates to "recognition of the good." Surely, one can't appreciate a thing without first recognizing the good in it.  We can create a "virtuous cycle" to benefit Jewish education here, one that starts with
hakarat hatov - appreciating our educators for their knowledge, skill, creativity, dedication, and caring.  If our community can match that skill, creativity and caring with bold and clever policies and practices, we can partner with local educators to build a magnificent learning community.

We begin with a small step - a recognition and an appreciation for the dedication and hard work our educators put in all year long.  We continue by providing resources, professional development, consultations and more in support of educators.  We will strive to do more, seeking strategies to address the challenges I mentioned above. 

Do you have ideas that may help?  Please let me know!

David Waksberg
CEO Jewish LearningWorks
EducatorsSpecial Event For Educators

Educator Appreciation Open House and Giveaway!

Monday, June 6th 12pm - 8pm
Oshman Family JCC | 3921 Fabian Way, Suite A024
Palo Alto (
Footsteps from the garage entrance)

Drop in to celebrate your work in the community with snacks, drinks, and TONS of give-aways including music, books, guides, curricula, toolkits, flashcards, games, art supplies + more (Hebrew & English).
      No RSVP required | Click for details
Embodied Jewish Learning

Joy! A Weekend Retreat for Women

with Julie Emden and Friends
Friday - Sunday|February 10th - 12th, 2017| Westerbeke Ranch, Sonoma

Treat yourself to a weekend of movement, dance, yoga, song, rest, play and creative expression in a gorgeous natural setting with delicious and nourishing meals.

Special All-inclusive
early-bird rate:
before June 30, 2016.

Questions? Contact for more information.
From the Jewish Community Library
One Bay One Book Closing Program:
Primo Levi and the Multicultural Texture of Italian Jewish Music

Experience the history and culture of the Jews from Levi's Piedmont region of Italy with a presentation by Francesco Spagnolo, PhD combined with archival musical recordings, and a live performance of Piedmontese Jewish and Italian synagogue and folk songs by Cantor Sharon Bernstein.

Palo Alto
Sunday, June 5th
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Congregation Etz Chayim

San Francisco
Thursday, June 9th
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Jewish Community Library

Grief and Growing:
A Healing Weekend for Bereaved Individuals and Families
Friday, August 26th - Sunday, August 28th
UJR Camp Newman | Santa Rosa

If you and/or your family is living with loss, please join us for this special weekend of care and learning, guided by professional grief-care specialists.

For more information, Click Here

Jewish Community Library
Film Class: Get Thee Out

Thursday, June 2nd
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Howard Freedman

Jewish Community Library
Genealogy Clinic

Sunday, June 5th
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Judy Baston

Jewish Community Library
Drop-in Book Club
Sunday, June 5th
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Jim Van Buskirk

Jewish Community Library
One Bay One Book: Primo Levi and the Multicultural Texture of Italian Jewish Music
Sunday, June 5th
7:00pm - 9:00pm 
Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto

Presented by: Francesco Spagnolo, PhD and Sharon Bernstein 

Professional Development
Educator Open House and Giveaway
Monday, June 6th
12:00pm - 8:00pm 
Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto
Footsteps from the garage entrance
Presented by: Jewish LearningWorks

Jewish Community Library
One Bay One Book: Primo Levi and the Multicultural Texture of Italian Jewish Music
Thursday, June 9th
7:00pm - 9:00pm 
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Francesco Spagnolo, PhD and Sharon Bernstein

Jewish Community Library
How Could We Miss it? The Klezmer Revival's Omission of Polish Jewry and the Salvage Ethnology of Veretski Pass        
Thursday, June 16th
7:00pm - 8:30pm 
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Cookie Segelstein, Joshua Horowitz, and Stuart Brotman

Adult Learning Opportunity
Limmud Bay Area
Friday, June 24th - Sunday, June 26th
Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park

Presented by: Limmud Bay Area

Jewish Community Library
The Art of Comfort: Visiting the Sick, Consoling the Mourners, Making a Shiva Call
Sunday, June 26th
3:00pm - 4:30pm 
Jewish Community Library, SF

Presented by: Dan Fendel 

Jewish Community Library
Grief and Growing: A Healing Weekend of Bereaved Individuals and Families
Friday, August 26th - Sunday, August 28th
URJ Camp Newman, Santa Rosa

Presented by: Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, Jewish LearningWorks, and Sinai Memorial Chapel

For Families with Young Children

From our Friends at Limmud and Wilderness Torah

Limmud Bay Area Registration is Now Open!

Friday, June 24th - Sunday, June 26th 
Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park

Learn from renowned presenters, engage in discussion groups, express yourself through art and movement, and make new friends over delicious, kosher meals!
Choose from +100 sessions taught by top Jewish scholars, educators, and leaders.
Special activities for kids (18 months and up) and teens!

Wilderness Torah's Training Institute 

Connect to Nature, Mentor Youth, Awaken Earth-Based Judaism

Wednesday, July 20th - July 24th 
Felton, California

Take a 4-day journey of discovery in nature-connection, renewing earth-based Jewish traditions, and building holistic community through mentoring. 
Jewish LearningWorks | 601 14th Ave | San Francisco, CA 94118